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Hello Dolly Cake

Have all of the cookies you slaved over this holiday season been given away or eaten by Santa’s little helpers? Well whip these classic ones up in less then an hour and if you do not already make these bar cookies you will be adding them to your favorites in no time!  My grandmother willed her recipes to me and after making them today, I decided to share this one with you!

My grandmother's recipe

Most people know these as Magic Cookie Bars, but they have been known by many different names. They were made famous, however when an 11 year old girl, Alecia Leigh Couch, had her recipe featured in Clementine Paddleford’s food column. The recipe became famous during the 60’s when Hello Dolly was on Broadway. During the show, there is a restaurant scene. Clementine Paddleford’s (our countries first food jouralist, the original foodie!) food column in “The Week “ magazine on September 19, 1965 featured a “Hello Dolly Cake” which she borrowed from her grandmother. The recipe included graham crack crumbs, flaked coconut, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and condensed milk.

19 September 1965, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, “Clementine Paddleford Recipe Swap,” This Week magazine, pg. 20, col. 2:  “Hello Dolly” Cake: ALECIA LEIGH COUCH OF DALLAS, TEXAS, 11, is today’s youngest. She sends a cake recipe borrowed from her grandmother, who cooks young, too. The “Hello Dolly” name was Alecia’s idea. “No need even to mess us a bowl,” Alecia writes, “and that’s the big reason why I call this my favorite cake recipe. And of course it’s good!” 

In the magical recipe box there are recipes that were jotted down just for her, so unless I had cooked it in the past I now have to rely on my mother or others similar recipes. When I found this one I knew I had to share it. As I have said, most call these Magic Cookie bars, and yes they are magic, but I will always know them as Hello Dolly Cake. My grandmother would sing, with her horrific off key voice “Hello Dolly” and make me sing along if I wanted to help! I have barely adjusted the recipe so below is what I did today when I baked these for Geoff and my celebrations, yes Santa is DENIED!

Holly Dolly Cake


  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs (This is the fun part, you can get all your agression out with a rolling pin and Ziplock© baggy. You need to make them fine, but not dust! The texture will be perfect plus they look so much better!)
  • 1 cup of Pecans chopped (I get mine sent to me from friends in the south so we always have several bags in the freezer, but I suggest you get them and chop them yourself, never buy pre chopped nuts, that is just insane! You lose all the oils that just add to the flavor.)
  • 6 ounces each of Chocolate & Butterscotch (which is half a normal sized bag )
  • 1 1/3 cups of coconut flakes (droooool I love coconut SO much, I never have any in the house because I tend to sit there and eat it till I am sick!)
  • 1 15 ounce can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (during the holidays they print a similar recipe inside the label, but of course this one is better!)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Crush graham crackers
  3. Melt butter in a 9x9x2-inch pan.
  4. Sprinkle in  layers each of graham cracker crumbs, coconut, chocolate, butterscotch  and pecans. Pour condensed milk over nuts evenly.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Cool in pan.


  1. I always love to drool first thing in the morning (pre-coffee) by reading about really great desserts — wonderful history and writing here…

    • Thanks Justin! My grandmothers recipe box is like a treasure chest to me. It brings back all the memories plus there are so many things to discover when I open it. I may have read through it time and again, but it just seems to produce even more happy surprises and memories each time I do!

  2. I’ve always heard these referred to as bars. They’re yummy.

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